Goodbye Kent State. .

When I went to college all I hoped for was to leave as someone great. I wanted a new beginning. I wanted a major that excited me. I wanted something greater for Styled by. I wanted friends. I wanted change. I wanted a home. 

It wasn’t that I didn’t feel in place at home. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I left captain of the cheer squad, editor in chief of the newspaper, and opening commencement speaker at graduation. I had it all, and I had it in a town that allowed me to flourish. I wanted the same thing, states away and I wanted to build it on my own. So I did. 

When I was a junior in high school my parents and I had narrowed down my college search to universities that offered both Fashion Merchandising and Journalism majors, was under $30,000 a year, and was driveable round trip in just one day. I surfed the internet researching more colleges than you could ever imagine. Kent State University loomed at the top of the best options and yet due to its ugly logo I selfishly scrolled past it. 

It wasn’t until after I had toured over ten other colleges, coming up empty-handed each time, that I finally decided to give Kent State a look. To be honest, I prayed I like it. I prayed they had something to offer other that a sad-looking mascot and a top-ranking fashion program. Because truthfully, while I did want the status, I wanted a home. I wanted the aha moment that every person talked about having when they found “their place”. 

I was pretty sure this would be my school when the first vehicle I saw in the roundabout was car-twins with the boy I was seeing at the time. Teenage angst, tell me about it. But I was positive after a kind student, a senior in the Fashion Merchandising program reassured me that I would find new faces to help Styledby grow, that I’d be able to jump right into a writing role in the fashion magazine and that I had room to grow. We went to the bookstore after my visit and that very afternoon, I made my mom buy me an overpriced crewneck I never wear but will never part ways with. 

It felt right. It felt like home. 

my post from the freshman facebook group

I asked my parents if I had to apply to other schools. Of course, they said yes, but I knew I’d go to Kent State. When my scholarship offer came in the mail, it was meant to be. And so I joined the freshman Facebook group and I set out to find roommates. Little did I know two of the three I started with, I’d also be ending with. 

I anxiously awaited freshman move-in day. Partly because I was excited but mostly because I was nervous. Nervous for a new beginning, the chance to start over. I’d sit at the dinner table and ask my parents questions until they begged me to shut up and worry no longer. What did you eat in the dining hall? What were your roommates like? What was campus like? 

To my surprise, there were several parts my Dad said he just couldn’t recall. “It’s been decades, McKenz”. I only wished I could travel back in time and meet my parents during this same season of life. To see what it was like for them, to ease my own worries. It was then that I decided I would make my first big girl purchase. 

I’d been watching YouTube religiously since I was in the sixth grade, making fake YouTube videos on my iPod touch for years. I’d toyed with the idea of vlogging seriously for ages. Maybe it was the idea of having memories that would last a lifetime or maybe it was the $600 of graduation money burning a hole in my pocket, but I set out to buy my first camera. A Canon G7X. Although I’ve had to replace my original baby since then, it’s the same camera I talk to this day. Hundreds of hours confided in front of her, thousands of memories saved forever.

And so that August, with a measly 500 YouTube subscribers, I moved 300 miles away from home to a little college town where I knew not one single soul. Just me and my camera. 

Years later, I can tell you we made out just fine. It’s hard to put my college experience into words—so I guess it’s safe to say thank god I have it on camera. While I’ve shared hours of my day-to-day life every Sunday since I began, I figured it was only right to condense my three years into three minutes—a highlight reel if you will. Because while yes there were many, many tears, heartbreaks, and hardships, it’s these moments that I will hold onto forever. 

my favorite video I’ve ever made. just three minutes. give her a watch.

Never in a million years did I imagine a college experience like the one I had but my God am I grateful every day that it unfolded the way it did. Friends that feel like family, a house that feels like home. I’d redo my three years at Kent State over and over and over again if I could. Not to change anything, just to feel this kind of love all over again. 

Saying goodbye was a pain unlike I’ve ever felt before. Like ripping a flower whose roots are too strong, a little too deep to yank. It’s how I know I’ve done my time well. Planted roots that will seep in just a little longer, bringing new life whenever watered. It was the first life I built all on my own and I am so proud of how it turned out.

I can only hope my new chapter is half as good— but for now, our story ends here. 

See you in Florence for one final hoorah before graduation. 

All my love, McKenz

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